Preaching for an Immoral Bride

Exactly how valid is the modern-day message of  “You need to ask Jesus into your heart”?  If you are a modern-day Christian in America, it is very possible that you believe this message to be the Gospel.  That we are to ask Jesus into our hearts, attend Church, and try to be good people with God helping us along the way.   The fact is, this message is found nowhere in Scripture!  This is actually a relatively modern teaching with no Biblical support.  The two passages most Preachers will use to support this teaching are these:

Revelation 3:20  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” 

Ephesians 3:14-17  “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

  But take a good look at what these passages actually say.  Nowhere does the Revelation passage mention your heart.  In many, many other places salvation is described as hinging on faith, a calling to God, repentance and a commitment to follow Him.  With Revelation 3:20 having none of these things being mentioned, it should be obvious that to turn this into a formula prayer for salvation is a dangerous thing. 

In Ephesians, a letter written to people who were already saved, Jesus residing in the heart is clearly taught.  And indeed, the Holy Spirit does come to reside in a person after conversion, but to label that as the conversion process is to put the cart before the horse.  This seemingly harmless teaching turns one of the effects of salvation into a formula for salvation. 

Allow me to draw a parallel for you.  Throughout the Bible, God’s relationship with the Church (the collective group of those truly saved, the redeemed of God) is compared to the relationship of a man and wife.  It could be argued that marriage was actually created as an illustration of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  Let us use this metaphor to examine the idea of “asking Jesus into your heart” to become saved, rather than it being something that happens after salvation.  Obviously, a spirit living inside the core of your being, residing alongside your spirit is intimate.  In fact, I cannot think of a more intimate and close relationship a person might be able to experience.  In the marriage metaphor, the parallel of intimacy would be sex.  After a couple is married they enjoy and are brought together by this highly intimate act.  Indeed, it is through this act that a man and a woman “become one flesh” much in the same way we become one with Christ and with the Father through the Spirits residing in us.

John 17:21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us:

It is this intimacy that makes us one with Christ.  It is this intimacy that makes Christ one with the Father.  It is this intimacy that makes a man and wife one flesh.  So to teach the Gospel as being “Just ask Jesus into your heart” would be exactly the same as telling a young man, “Go ask that girl in your youth group to have sex.  Don’t worry, she will know that what you really mean is you want to abandon all others and marry her first.  Don’t worry about the technicalities of it all, just go ask for sex.”  No one could dispute that this would be horrible and immoral advice for a young man, but it is the exact same message that is being preached in virtually every American Church.  “Don’t worry about the technicalities or theology of it all, just ask Christ to reside in your heart in intimate fellowship and oneness.  It will all work out!”  How can the Spirit of a pure and Holy God come to rest in intimacy in an abode that His blood has not cleansed?  In the Old Testament, did He reside in a filthy and unconsecrated temple and then have the blood brought in to clean it later down the road?  Does He teach us to have sex and then get married?  No!  A thousand times no!  Salvation comes through faith and in the atoning work of Christ.  We repent, believe and are declared justified.  We are made clean.  It is only when we have the righteousness of God that He can then indwell us.

Whether you accept this metaphor or not, the fact is that nowhere in all of Scripture is, “asking Jesus into your heart” mentioned.  Not in the Old Testament, not in the symbology of the Passover, not in one single instance in the New Testament.  Nowhere.  That alone should ring the alarm bells that this teaching is not Biblical (and if it isn’t Biblical, it isn’t Christian).  Please begin preaching the real Gospel (repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ alone) and encourage others to do the same.

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6 Comments on “Preaching for an Immoral Bride”

  1. revivalandreformation Says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    Have you ever been over to Defending Contending? Chances are “most” of the visible churches in NORTH AMERICA are preaching short cuts to God. This I call Microwave Christianity. Christians for the most part are impatient and want their stuff now! To tell a Christian or a christian to be that this process might take a lifetime and it will bring pain, suffering and loss, how many would actually jump at that? Then you have Osteen and Copeland tellling that very same person that God wants them to be happy, rich and prosperous, take a wild guess where they will go? Yes the church is guilty of shortcuts and yes the church for the most part is more interested in numbers and giving, than souls won Scripturally.


  2. Rebecca LuElla Miller Says:

    OK, I just looked over your post more carefully and read this: but it is the exact same message that is being preached in virtually every American Church.

    Uh, Joe, have you been in virtually every American church? This kind of blanket statement doesn’t sound like what I’m used to hearing from you.

    For one thing, a lot of “churches” don’t believe in accepting Jesus at all but in following his good example—the one in the verses they approve. Others with reformed theology are not using this language.

    And neither my church nor the denominational leaders who have preached in our pulpit divorce “accepting Christ” from His redemptive work at the cross. Even if you listen to Billy Graham crusades (we still have them on TV from time to time), you will hear the clear message of about sinful Man and sinless Savior dying in his place that he might be reconciled with God.

    I’m sure there are some churches who give a simplistic “do this and you’re set for life” message, but I don’t think we’re doing the Church any favor to paint “virtually every American church” with that brush.



    • Says:

      Is “virtually every American Church” an overstatement? Well, yes. There are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholics, Emergent, crazy cults and all sorts of others claiming christianity that would make my statement false. It is simply an exagerated statement intentionally being used as a literary device. The truth is, a whole lot (and I mean many, many) churches are preaching that message. I have personally seen the inside of far too many churches myself over the past couple years, and have read the “Statements of Faith” of even more online. Not to mention listening to countless sermons downloaded online. Let me speak my meaning with no literary devices or exageration: I firmly believe that the majority of modern American Churches are indeed preaching “Ask Jesus into your heart” if they are preaching any salvation at all (many aren’t).


  3. Rebecca LuElla Miller Says:

    Any formula is a problem. James says the demons believe and tremble, so believing isn’t the formula. But Paul says “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So believing is necessary.

    “Asking Jesus into your heart” is metaphorical language for what Jesus Himself prayed in His Last Supper prayer: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me” (John 17:22-23a—emphasis mine).

    What really matters is what a person understands this to mean. If he is saying the words as a formula or as if they have magical power, then of course this is meaningless. If he means he is believing in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, He was crucified for our sins but is alive today that we might abide in Him and He in us, well, that’s a different thing, isn’t it?

    The words shouldn’t be the issue. Repeating a passage of Scripture as a formula or for magical power doesn’t make it meaningful simply because the words are from the Bible.

    The issue should be whether or not the person is entering into a relationship with God. Frankly, we can’t know whether he has or not until there’s some fruit to examine. I don’t think we should be quick to discount how one person or another has met Jesus.



    • Says:

      Hi Becky,
      I must agree and disagree with you on this one. What I mean is this; We were told directly by Jesus moments before His ascension that we are to “preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins” in His name. If He is the King and we are simply messengers, we have no authority whatsoever to change the message, even if we think many people understand what we are saying. I am not saying that everyone who has uttered this prayer is lost. I completely agree that some people will hear this message and the Holy Spirit will bring about faith, repentance and a contrite heart. I have seen and met plenty folks that have had exactly that experience. But because God can fix something, does that mean it is OK to preach a broken and rebellious message? God could cause someones eyes to opened and their spirit smitten with a glimpse of their own sin and the glory of Christ all while looking at a Saltine cracker, but that does not mean we should never preach the Gospel again, and instead hand out crackers at the airport (although it would give the guys with flowers a run for their money!) But the biggest problem I have with the message (in addition to it being incorrect and rebellious) is that it denys Christ the glory He deserves. We are utterly lost in sin. Not explaining that we are covered in filth and need atonement by nothing less than God’s own blood before union with Him (which we do not deserve) robs God of the glory of what He did on that Cross. The Cross was the pivotal point in all of existence, and to trivialize it with “Just ask Him into your Heart” rather than explaining man’s problem and the solution created by a glorious God is tragic to say the least. I must say, if you don’t think this message is being preached as a stand-alone message, and that most Churches do preach sin, repentance and atonement alongside it, then you haven’t been to many churches lately. You should visit 2 churches a year just to get a feel for what is out there. It is getting dark and scary! Thanks for stopping by, I always enjoy chatting with you.


  4. revivalandreformation Says:

    Isn’t this why we are compared to the bride of Christ? We are His darlilng, His one own priceless possession. Good metaphor, and very true. A lot of people will most likely be offended by the comparison to sex, but sex is beautiful, intimate and ordained by God. Just like the relationship we are to have with our Saviour.


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